How to get the most out of your travel
I spend a good amount of time considering how to make the most out of my days. In some ways, this can be detrimental because I lean towards perfectionism regarding the execution of my time. (If I haven’t taken a break from 7am until 9:30pm, maybe I’m taking productivity too seriously). BUT, when I intentionally make choices that are more go-with-the-flow, this trait of mine comes in handy. I thought I’d share these intentional thoughts and choices on my vacation last week.
I’m on my way back from an epic week. Starting in Raleigh, my partner (Nathan) and I travelled all over Florida, from Jacksonville, to the Everglades, and then Crystal River, before coming home with a stopover in Savannah. We volunteered for a Hurricane Irma clean-up mission, canoed and camped on our own private island in the middle of the Everglades, caught jumping mullet, saw dolphins swim by our canoe (but fortunately no alligators!), swam with manatees, ate all of the seafood, drove a lot, and breathed in our beautiful and lucky life. While it was pretty easy to enjoy this vacation, I truly believe that what made it even better was my mindful and health-conscious decisions. Here are 7 tips so you might gain a slice of inspiration for your next adventure!
7 tips for better travel
1. Balancing time to relax and time to work– For a lot of us, it’s very difficult to disconnect from work. With more and more entrepreneurs and remote jobs, we can always find work to do. Professionals are moving away from work-like balance and towards work-life integration. If you find yourself in this situation, perhaps you can allow yourself to work (a little), especially if it means you’ll be less stressed out upon arriving home. I set limits on when I worked. “I’ll only work in the car and not work longer than an hour at a time.” I was able to work in a relaxing, unrushed environment while still creating a sense of accomplishment.
2. Be active in different ways than you normally do. I’m normally biking, lifting, and practicing yoga. I did almost NONE of this for a whole week. We did a ton of functional training on the demolition team during our service project. We walked, canoed, swam, and also practiced a little bit of yoga. This allowed my body to reset and recharge while still stimulating endorphins each day. You can read more about the importance of varying your types of movement here.
3.Be on your own time- There are small ways to slow down while also feeling like you experienced a lot on your trip. (I tend to overdo it on the experience and underdo it on the chill time). I know this about myself so I made small decisions to lean more in the direction of chill. For example, we didn’t set alarms at night. Even when I wanted to get up early on road trip days to arrive at the destination at a normal time, we decided to just wake up whenever we did and hit the road whenever we did. What’s the rush? The Everglades are still going to be there and part of the fun is on the road. Another way to slow down is to take longer breaks during the road trip. Find a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the middle of nowhere and sit down for a meal. Have a drink, or two. Be present and avoid the pull of the get-up-and-go. BONUS: Avoiding the drive-thrus also makes it easier to choose a healthier meal!
- 4. Volunteer– We volunteered for a couple of days while in the Everglades. The North Carolina Outward Bound School has a basecamp in Everglades City that unfortunately got hit really hard by Hurricane Irma. While volunteering, we felt a sense of purpose and satisfaction as we helped with a piece of the clean-up mission. Not only did it feel good, it was an awesome way to stay active on our trip as we basically carried an entire destroyed building off the island, piece by piece. Volunteering has a ton of benefits including increasing your likelihood to live longer. (Read more benefits here).
5. Reflect– Reflecting is a great tool to stay connected to your experience and stay present. Nathan and I asked each other questions every day like- “What was your favorite part of the day?” and “What are you grateful for today?” We also spent time journaling about our trip which heightens the experience. Focusing more intentionally on your positive experiences can actually mold your brain to think more optimistically- it’s true! (Hardwiring Happiness by Dr. Rick Hanson TedTalk).
6. Get outside your comfort zone– Last but definitely not least- I got outside my comfort zone. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “The Everglades?” Alligators. Pythons. Oh my. Throw in some canoeing and camping in my future and I’m straight up scared. I wouldn’t define myself as high maintenance by any means, but two nights camping with our mosquito and raccoon friends definitely came with challenges. I was even scared to snorkel with manatees (I’ve since learned how gentle they are, but still!). But let me tell you, when you are on an island with no one else in sight, listening to birds and jumping fish, dolphins surfacing, and cooking a fish that your partner caught over a fire that you made, you can’t help but smile and feel proud of yourself.
7. Unplug (here and there)– I’d be lying if you told you that I was able to unplug from my device the whole week. If you’re like me, you’re pretty damn connected to your phone. So, a much more
realistic goal was to disconnect here and there. I knew that there was a good chance I would lose service at certain points on the camping adventure- so that was a sureway that I could unplug. (Turns out it was for 2 whole days! Bliss). At other times, Iintentionally left my phone in the car or AirBnB when we went out exploring. Small wins of disconnecting add up, leading to a more present-minded vacation. This article by Joshua Becker gives more awesome tips on how and why we should unplug.
What do you do to enhance your time off? Comment below! It doesn’t have to be anything super complicated. Small decisions and behavior add up to happiness.
A huge shoutout to Nathan for planning this amazing adventure for us! <3